Catherine Dwyer

Dwyer, Catherine

March 5, 1924 - January 11, 2021

Just short of 97 years ago, Mary Catherine Jordan said, “Stop the world, I want to get on.” The world has never been quite the same since. Catherine was the second child of John and Loretta Jordan (Curtin), farmers who lived outside Dublin, Ont. She was a sister to older brother Jack, and, later, to Dorothy and Jeannette. As a teenager, she was an ace member, and left-handed batter, of the Dublin Colleens baseball team. Before she turned 20, Catherine began a 43-year teaching career, initially at a one-room schoolhouse in her home township of Hibbert, where every morning she had to sweep the floor and light the fire before welcoming up to 40 students spanning several grades. It was the start of a career that would include almost three decades at St. Michael’s and St. Louis schools in Leamington, where Catherine taught a generation of new Canadians, from Lebanon, Italy and Portugal, the finer points of speaking and writing English. She also invited them, through her intuitive respect and trademark sense of humour, to feel at home in an unfamiliar land. In the early 1940s, Catherine met Grattan Dwyer (who grew up just a few miles from her childhood home) at a local dance, and in 1949 they married; Grattan’s brother, Father Michael Dwyer, conducted the vows. Soon after, Grattan and Catherine moved to Leamington, where he built and ran the Park Lanes bowling alley with another of his brothers, Bill, before taking a job as caretaker of the Leamington Post Office, at which he worked until his death in 1982. Catherine loved him so much, and she lost him too young. The couple had eight children: Virginia, Philip, Sean, Stephen (who died soon after birth), Allan (Anna), Victor (John Tossell), Janice (Ron Horne) and Gary (Fran). They also had eight grandchildren, whose victories Catherine championed and who loved her a lot: Stephen (who died in 2000, survived by Aurora), Bryan (Krista), Robert, Sasha (Jonathan), Kendra (Hayley), David (Vanessa), Erika and Julia; and five great-grandchildren, whom she adored: Louis, Nyanah, Silas, Kailani and Kamille. She also had 50 nieces and nephews, and more than a few godchildren, and loved to keep track of the comings and goings of their busy lives. Catherine was as close as she could be to her two sisters and their husbands, Dorothy and Jimmy Delaney of Dublin, and Jeannette and Jack Costello of Mitchell, and to her brother Jack and his wife Eileen of Kitchener, all of whom are now gone. She was also a loyal and fun sister-in-law to Grattan’s nine siblings and their partners: Jack (Thekla), Hugh (Nell), Julia (Allo Lennon), Mary (Art Pigeon), Bill (Betty), Katherine (Ken McPherson), Bridget (Lawrence Butler), Mike, and Eileen (Larry Richard). Catherine had a devoted posse of female comrades - many of them fellow teachers - who laughed their way through a decades-long friendship of hijinks, road trips, lunches around town, and cones at the dock. Everyone who knew her well will remember her endlessly fantastic cooking, her decadent homemade desserts, her one-of-a-kind ceramics, quilts and epic poems, her love of funny greeting cards, and, most of all, her special-occasion scrapbooks compiled from meticulously hand-clipped tabloid headlines, cartoons, and photos of pumped-up and scantily clad celebrity superbodies onto which she would paste as many oddball photos as she could find of the face of the scrapbook’s recipient. In her final years of more than six decades living at 8 Jones Avenue, Catherine came to value more than ever the many long-time neighbours who were, as she put it, “so good to me,” and the hard work and amiable company of her biweekly helper, Sharon Schneider. She also appreciated the unstinting TLC of her late-in-life dentist Denis Dwyer and her longtime mechanic Pete Thiessen. When it came time to leave 8 Jones at age 92, Catherine received gentle care from the people at Erie Glen and, later, at Franklin Gardens, where she found guardian angels among the staff, and a steadfast roommate in Clara Ingratta. Catherine belonged to St. Michael’s Parish and to the Catholic Women’s League - as boundless as her wit and as vast as her kindness was her deep faith in God. To everyone who knew her well, she was an answer to a prayer. Now reunited with Grattan and baby Stephen, her own final prayer has at long last been granted.

We hope to gather in celebration when times allow. In the meantime, we encourage anyone with memories of Catherine to post them at www.reidfuneralhome.ca , or to share them with the family via e-mail at vdwyer@sympatico.ca , or by mail to Allan Dwyer, 39 Wilkinson Drive, Leamington, Ont., N8H 1A1.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you consider a donation to Community Food Centres Canada www.cfccanada.ca or to your local food bank.